Through the first 18 games it has been a familiar trend. Opponents have built sizable leads against the Atlanta Hawks often in the early part of games. For the most part the Hawks have done a good job of digging themselves out of the hole but too often the deficit is too much. Atlanta got away with it on Friday against the Dallas Mavericks. They weren't nearly as lucky on Saturday against the Wizards.
Al Horford - "It's not a habit we want to get into as a team. It takes too much energy, too much effort. We did it yesterday. Yeah, it was great. We want to be playing well and get ahead in games."
Horford hits the nail on the head here. Playing from behind makes an already difficult job that much more exhausting. For a team like the Hawks who have been playing shorthanded its even worse. Factor in a string of back-to-back games and the results are often a losing streak.
In some areas you can chalk it up to growing pains with the new offense and defense. The trust in the system is clearly not there yet but often times it is more about effort, focus and an attention to detail. That is where we are at with these Hawks.
Things like ducking under a screen or missing a rotation are killing this team right now. They are not in position to get away with many mistakes at this juncture. Often when they do everything right on the defensive end a missed blockout gives an opponent another opportunity.
You might ask how do the Hawks get through this period? They simply have to play through it. A rotation change is certainly possible but its hard to see where it would make things better. Coach Budenholzer has done a good job of mixing players in and out over the first part of the season. Now it is simply about the players executing offensively and defensively in game situations. Those situations that are next to impossible to replicate in practice.
In the meantime the Hawks as a group would do well to follow the lead of Paul Millsap who single handedly in the last two games has refused to let the team simply go away. Jeff Teague shook off a rib injury on Saturday and kept fighting. We are seeing some good individual performances. Now its about executing as a team.
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